Milan were looking to bounce back after a shock 2-1 defeat at the hands of Bologna in round two, thanks to a last-minute strike from Giovanni Piacentini gave the home side all three points. Prior to this setback, Milan had comfortably won their opening game with a 2-0 victory over Serie A new boys Vicenza and star striker Andriy Shevchenko was in blistering form having scored in each of the Rossoneri’s first two games of the new season.
As for Juventus, they would see off Napoli and Bari respectively to ensure they travelled to Milan with maximum points. Having scored four and conceded just one, they were in high spirits and had every reason to be, as Ancelotti welcomed back Alessando Del Piero to his starting 11, the number 10 having missed out on the clash with Bari the week before.
As Del Piero, dressed in an unfamiliar silver shirt with matching shorts and socks, shook the hand of Paolo Maldini, the iconic stadium was filling with smoke and bright red flares as two of Italian football’s finest prepared to go toe-to-toe.
Despite the electric atmosphere this was very much a game of two halves. Both sides cautiously played off against one another like two heavyweight boxers, waiting for each other to land a crucial punch. Who would strike first?
The two giants of the Italian game saw out a rather eventless first half, however in the second there would be fireworks to match the passion in the stands.
With the game nearing the hour mark, Milan were awarded a free-kick out wide in line with the Juventus penalty spot. Demetrio Albertini stood over the ball, proceeding to float a pinpoint cross onto the head of Massimo Ambrosini. The Milan man lost his marker, Alessio Tacchinardi, and powered his header down to get the better of Edwin Van Der Sar, who could only watch on as the ball bounced off the post and into the net, putting the home side 1-0 up.
While the inquest went on in the Juventus defence, Milan immediately doubled their lead, thanks to a more recognised scored in Shevchenk. Zvonimir Boban was the architect this time; his dummy got the better of Edgar Davids, and the Croat then crossed a precise left-footed ball to the back post where Shevchenko was waiting to head home from close range, leaving the visitors shaken.
Ancelotti needed a response, and when French playmaker Zinedine Zidane picked up the ball he got one. Zidane, in trademark Zidane fashion, collected the ball on the halfway line and effortlessly pushed it past Albertini before a drop of the shoulder got the better of a wild Gattuso challenge. His left-footed cross was deflected on to the head of fellow Frenchman, David Trezeguet, who bulleted his header past Christian Abbiati.
As Juventus poured forward in search of an equaliser, the fourth official held up the board for five additional minutes to be played. The ball fell to Antonio Conte on the edge of the box and, after he side stepped past a lunging Paolo Maldini, he let fly with a thunderous drive which brushed the fingertips of the diving Abbiati and found the corner of the Milan goal, sparking wild celebrations. Ancelotti’s men had tied the game up, earning a point that felt more like a win.
The two sides meet again this Saturday evening as Max Allegri’s table-toppers head to Milan to take on an enthusiastic young Milan side who are fresh off the back of a 3-1 victory over Chievo. Victory for Vincenzo Montella’s side would put them within two points of Juventus at the top of the table and could spark a serious title bid.
Words by Giovanni Dougall: @giovannid86
Gio has been part of the @GentlemanUltra team since 2013 and is the creator of @ClassicCalcio and @Solo_Parma. He regularly travels to Italy to follow his beloved Parma